Posted in Hue's Reviews

Hue’s Reviews: Allegedly

Struggle porn irks me.

What’s struggle porn? It’s constant pain, struggle, or hardship-marked entertainment disguised as “message opportunities”. Books, movies, t.v. shows, and music are the main platforms. Find a person, particularly one of color, and harp as much pain as you can on them with murky messages or none presented by its end.


Allegedly adds itself to the genre.

With a strong beginning and a middling middle, Tiffany Jackson presented a horrific tale of injustice, vindication, and the desire to grow with an ending that totally negates the story’s path.

Sentence to six years for a baby’s death (allegedly), Mary B. Addison struggles to determine who she is, despite others’ opinions. Did she murder the baby? What is she hiding? Is she the real monster under the closet?

She deals with a horrid justice system denying her voice since the incident. But, Mary desires better, if she’s innocent. Allegedly. She wants to take her SATs, attend college, and raise her baby. Oh, yes. She’s pregnant. We already have Push. Precious told her story. Reboots never work.

Disclaimer: I work with students living in group homes and within the juvenile system. I do not speak from inexperience. While experience varies, take my opinion as you will.
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Hue’s Reviews: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Rachel, sole survivor of a family tragedy navigates boxes others deem fitting for her. Will she choose, or will she set out to determine who she is on her own terms?

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, a debut book, by Heidi W. Durrow, paints a picture of a young girl, born to an African-American father and a Danish mother, and her journey to reclaim what she believes herself to be in a world obsessed with categories, while realizing how hard choosing not to categorize one’s self may be.

Rachel moves to Portland to live with her paternal grandmother in a mostly black community in the 1980s. She finds her light skin, blue eyes, and curly hair grants her beauty accolades at the cost of other girls and women. She’s special while learning to swallow the grievous moments interlocking with peaceful days.

Throughout the book, readers glance at those categorizing her as the lone survivor of a sadness indescribable. Her mother, Nella, along with a witness, Brick/Jamie, and a mother’s friend, Lavonne serve as the other eyes of Rachel’s life.

While race centers the story, sexuality and coming of age follow as subsequent themes to create a gumbo worthy of reading.

At first glance, I shivered from an angry undercurrent permeating and worried whether I could finish this story. Earlier on, she gives indictments about the black community she lives in and judges them based on the little knowledge she has on black people. For example, she mocks their vernacular and appearances, unless she likes them (e.g. Aunt Loretta). My eyes rolled in sweat. She “othered” herself before others boxed her with an air of supremacy I’ve witnessed from the “Tragic Mulatto” cliche. I closed the book, at first, because I decided not to continue.

However, after a breathe or two, I continued, hoping Durrow had something to say, other than propagating the “Tragic Mulatto” trope. As the chapters progressed and Rachel grew familiar with her new family and community, peeling back Rachel’s layers, you see why she behaved in the manner she presented.

Her mother.

Constant confusion and chaos by a woman unsure of herself and unsure of how to raise her children, raised in fear, anxiety, and an unacknowledged discussion of their place in the world. She simply did not know who she was.

Once pieces created the puzzle, our eyes (Rachel and mine) opened, a silent dialogue began.

Pros:

  • A good story
  • Complex characterization
  • Believable dialogue
  • Constant opportunity for discussion beyond the page
  • Brick. Even though he’s fictional, I wish the best for him – a young boy trying to find his way after witnessing that day.
  • Multiple points of view, garnering everyone’s role in Rachel’s literal and metaphorical fall from the sky

Cons:

  • Use of a her father’s point of view once or twice (Not enough of a p.o.v. to give chapters)
  • I got confused when some information that came as the chapters passed (Who is Charlie?)
  • I still feel Rachel served as an avatar for Durrow’s feelings about black people. She receives a side-eye with her pseudo-therapeutic approach.
  • Jesse. He showed his true colors. Yet, Durrow ends his arc without consequence – almost letting him get away with his actions when she wouldn’t do the same for the black kids.
  • Her mother’s reason for her action. Protection from society? What?
  • An open-ended ending that’s a tad abrupt. I guess I would have liked more of a clear destination for Rachel. But, it’s not my tale to tell.

Overall, I rated this book a 3 out of 5. The Girl Who Fell From The Sky attempts for an unflinching look at flight, but may leave you buying a train ticket to another story.

*This book happily sits on my bookshelf from my own funds*)

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Hue’s Reviews: Wrecked

During a party, Jenny accuses rape by Jordan. Its aftermath leaves friends, acquaintances and a college swaying towards fact or fiction and what’s best for Jenny or Jordan. Verdicts lay in the corners of both students, leaving us all wrecked in its path.

Wrecked offers an unflinching look at sexual assault within our college campuses. Rape, rape-culture, victimization, and perpetrator alignment receive a trial throughout this story’s pages. Told between two perspectives, not of the rape survivor, but her roommate and her roommate’s love interest as readers, we see how we play a role in bolstering or chipping away at this hurtful societal ill.

Padian paints her picture via a believable plot with well-developed characters and dialogue. Furthermore, she flips gender roles. Haley’s the jock and Richard’s the lovelorn fellow trying to figure himself out. You witness discussions with college students without the use of hyper-aware language (Take note, Josh Whedon!). In other words, eighteen year-olds sound reasonable and not as though they’re thirty-somethings trapped in younger bodies. The two observers, see murkiness in the situation – most of which they present themselves. Doubt permeates each page. However, victim-blaming never receives a welcomed vibe from the go. Good.

Furthermore, I appreciate how Padian set events leading to Jenny’s rape in specks in-between each chapter. Dread speckles with each turn as you know what’s about to arrive, and when the moment comes, without gratuity, you feel the emptiness and sadness she encounters before, during, and after. It’s heavy and will not let go, as sexual assault refuses to do in reality.

You will feel anger at Jordan, Haley, Richard – even misplaced at Jenny because you want to prevent the inevitable. Her helplessness becomes your own.

With all books, cons present themselves. Two such cons are the one-note Carrie character (the “Angry Feminist/Social Do-Gooder”) and an inappropriate love story (while not Insta-love, which I detest, the subplot builds).

Con #1: Carrie’s angry, justified, of course. But, as readers, we often do not see glimmers of anything more, unless you count jealousy. However, what’s jealousy without anger attached? I would have preferred moments of joy or indifference. In a way, the Mona character could have splintered into Carrie.

Con #2: The inappropriate love sub-plot of Haley and Richard. Yeah, I get it. Living life includes moments where you move on, despite negativity rimmed around you. I felt dirty though as I witnessed a scene where consent teaching came off as jokey. You may feel otherwise. Yet, I can’t shake that feeling.

Regardless of those two cons, these story deserves a read. Padian writes a realistic telling of the all too familiar course many college stories unwittingly registered for in their matriculation. Verdict: 4 out of 5.

*This book happily sits on my bookshelf from my own wallet.*

Reading Hack #3 Building a Great Summer TBR List

Before you know, Memorial Day and the rush of summer breezes will tap your manicured hot pink toes. Along with barbecues, pool parties, and freshly-cut grass, summer means another great reason to shop. No. I’m not talking about sundresses and cute sandals (Though, they’re tucked in my brain somewhere).

If you’re like me, you get a lot of reading completed this time. Want great tips on building the perfect TBR? Follow this link. My particular favorite? Diversifying your selection. Fantasy fan? Cool. Switch your favorite genre with some YA or adult fiction. Not only will you stay involved in reading, but you’ll discover some great books.

To Build A Great Summer TBR List?

Happy Reading!

 

Posted in Hue's Reviews

Hue’s Reviews: Paper Girls, Vol. 1

WTF did I just read?

Graphic novels are not my forte. I think I’ll keep that understanding packaged strong. I ventured to Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughn for the nostalgia factor alone. Since the setting’s 1988, I smiled because I was twelve during that year and I wanted to read a graphic novel I believed harked back to a time I longed for again.

Time travel. Omega Man-type creeps. Guns. Girls on bikes. An old dude wearing a Public Enemy shirt. Confusion galore.

While I’m all for girls beating the stereotypical system, I like my stories clear and concise. Vaughn’s artwork impressed me, but the story shoehorned a plot tsunami into a jar and closed the lid beckoning me to spend more money for the next volume.

Give me a little foreplay and a little wine before you go for the wham-bam-thank you ma’am, okay?

Verdict: 2.5 out of 5 (More for the art and nostalgia than anything else)

John’s getting all the shine in this post…